A tough, heartbreaking story of loss and love... Lulu's Café by T.I. Lowe (Review)

Lulu's Café
By T.I. Lowe
Christian Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Paperback & ebook, 336 Pages
June 4th 2019 by Tyndale House Publishers


“T. I. Lowe has crafted a terrific novel with characters to root for. This author is one to watch!” —Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of The Masterpiece

When a damaged young woman is given a chance to reclaim her life in a small South Carolina town, she must reckon with the dark secrets she left behind in order to accept the love she deserves.

On the run from a violent past, Leah Allen arrived in tiny Rivertown, South Carolina, battered and broken, but ready to reinvent herself. By a stroke of fate, Leah is drawn to the Southern hospitality of a small café, looking for a warm meal but finding so much more. Lulu, the owner, offers her a job, a place to stay and a new lease on life. Through Lulu’s tenacious warmth and generosity, Leah quickly finds herself embraced by the quaint community as she tries to put herself back together. Given she’s accustomed to cruelty, the kindness is overwhelming.

Soon Leah meets Crowley Mason, the most eligible bachelor in town. A lawyer and friend of Lulu’s, Crowley is wary of Leah’s sudden, mysterious arrival. Despite his reserve, something sparks between them that can’t be denied. But after all she’s been through, can Leah allow herself to truly love and be loved, especially when her first urge is to run?

Exploring the resiliency of both the heart and the spirit, Lulu’s Café gorgeously illustrates how old scars can finally heal no matter how deep they seem.

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My Review

LULU'S CAFÉ is one of those stories that is just tough to read. It's brutally descriptive about abuse. What makes it worth the read is the friendship and love that comes after the heroine tries to find herself again and the faith woven through her story.

The beginning of this book was really hard to read. I would have actually liked it more fade-to-black in the beginning, with more of pieces of the picture given over a chapter or two instead of the first 50 pages. But I've always been one of those people who don't need to witness brutality to understand it or feel the pain. So the beginning of this book wasn't enjoyable for me and I pretty much detached, which made it difficult to really connect with the story and heroine as the story progressed. The story is also very much told to the reader as time progresses, as Leah slowly heals, and as she finds a new life with friendship and the possibility of romance. Some things didn't work for me, but I kept reading.

By about 150 pages in I was reengaged in the story, not that I didn't like the middle part, but more that I just kind of coasted through it without really feeling emotionally invested. The rest of the story I loved. There was more dialogue, I knew these characters better, Anna wasn't always annoying me like she did at the beginning, Leah was starting to engage more herself, Crowley had warmed somewhat, and Lulu had become dear. Then the ending... I felt like the summary of Leah's life before was perfectly handled and the ending was very, very sweet. I loved the way that faith was portrayed in these characters and their lives and the hope and care they have for each other. That's what really made this story for me.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was one of those reads that was difficult, as in a good portion was not pleasant reading and some things needed more development. Regardless, I fell in love with these characters and loved the last half of the book. It's definitely a tear-jerker with a sweet, hope-filled ending.

Content: This story is definitely a more blunt representation of Women's Fiction and Christian Romance. This is both in regards to detailed abuse, drunkenness, and also some sexual innuendo, so it's one I'd recommend to 18+ readers.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review nor affect my review in any way.

Check out a very fun guest post from the author here.

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